Movie Review #834: ‘Cassandra’s Dream’ is dreadful, uneven, dreadfully uneven…
By Alexander Diminiano
|Crime, Drama, Romance|
|Rated PG-13 (contains mature themes, violence, sexual content)|
“Cassandra’s Dream” (2007) is the third entry in Woody Allen’s unofficial London trilogy, following “Match Point” (2005) and “Scoop” (2006). Though those three films aren’t often referred to as a collective trilogy, because only one of them is even worth watching. It’s sad that after the beautiful noir that “Match Point” was, Allen had to settle for a schlock like “Scoop”. It’s even sadder that after that flop, he didn’t even try to make a good third London movie.
This is a rather hokey mystery movie. It’s not a comedy, nor does it intend to be a comedy, but at times it becomes one, regardless. Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor are extremely believable as brothers, and they perform well in their roles. But they seem like they’re part of a larger entity throughout the whole film, and I am convinced that that larger entity is called Mystery Inc. I couldn’t tell which of them was supposed to be Shaggy and which one was supposed to be Scooby. Now that I think about it, Shaggy seems more likely than Scooby to get depressed, drink heavily, and take pills excessively, so perhaps Colin Farrell is Shaggy, and Ewan McGregor is Scooby.
The brothers have recently purchased a boat that they call Cassandra’s Dream. Not sure why. I believe one of them mentions it briefly, and then we’re just supposed to take it for the beautiful name that it is. Not sure why the movie itself goes by “Cassandra’s Dream”. It implies that Cassandra, whoever she might be, is a very uninteresting person and has very dull dreams.
Rather than featuring one, fluid plot, “Cassandra’s Dream” seems to split into three plots. It’s not an anthology movie. It’s just very uneven. The first plot features a financial crisis. Farrell is 90,000 pounds in debt with loan sharks, and then he involves his brother and things get really complicated. Honestly, it’s impossible to keep track of who’s doing what with who’s money and why whomever needs whomever’s money and who’s one first what’s on second yadda yadda yadda. I felt like a Wall Street broker who’s so clueless he doesn’t even know what a hedge fund is. The money talk in this part of the movie flies in your face so fast that you’re just unable to process what’s going on in the story.
Then the two boys–men, excuse me–go and try to borrow some dinero from their uncle and he gets pissed off for some reason. Enter plot number two. He’s pissed off because his job is being investigated and if he doesn’t kill his co-worker, he’ll be put in prison for life. He needs his nephews to do it for him, and he needs them to make it look like a suicide, or else he’ll be put in jail for life, anyway. This part of the movie (which probably runs 40 minutes or longer) features lots of dabbling. Should we follow through with killing this guy? Yeah, let’s do it. No, never mind, let’s not and say we did. On second thought, it’s probably a good idea. Nope, I take that back, it’s a terrible, terrible idea. Make up your minds already, boys!
So now the movie’s taken a turn from Bookkeeper’s Heaven into a crime thriller. I couldn’t think of a more sudden shift, to be totally honest. But anyway, they kill the guy, because if they didn’t, there wouldn’t be a plot three. In plot three, Farrell begins suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. His wife begins feeling increasingly worried about his mental health. Farrell’s become suicidal. God, is it boring spending thirty minutes of your life watching his character’s wife and brother try and talk him out of suicide. It’s actually more obnoxious than depressing. Much more obnoxious, in fact.
Sally Hawkins was great in her role in “Cassandra’s Dream”. If this were a vaudeville show, I would be able to raise the score simply for her character. Unfortunately, we’ve surpassed vaudeville by nearly a century. Sometimes we have good movies, and sometimes we have bad movies. “Cassandra’s Dream” started as a good movie, in its earliest drafts. That was in 1951, when it was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Back then, it was called “Strangers on a Train”. But now it’s called “Cassandra’s Dream”, and it’s no good at all.